Monthly Archives: September 2015

Get Your Boots Wet

James 1:3-4 has stalked me since Sunday morning.

“Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:4 NIV).

The Amplified Bible is helpful:

“Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience. But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be (people) perfectly developed (with no defects), lacking in nothing.”

The Message Bible is more direct:

“So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.”

A couple of weeks ago, Matthew 6:33: “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these other things will be added…” slammed into me. How does one “seek” the Kingdom? What does that mean—seek? It is much larger than praying.

James W. Marshall’s employer needed lumber for his many businesses. When local timber was exhausted, Marshall suggested he could go into the mountain, harvest trees, mill the lumber and float it down the river. It was branded “a harebrained idea” but Marshall wouldn’t give up. He secured a contract, money, supplies and men from the employer and built a sawmill where the timber was.

When the mill was completed, a structural defect was found that blocked the floating lumber. The flow was too shallow. The channel had to be deepened by blasting. Marshall turned off the water flow to examine the deepened tailrace and to examine the gravel, rock and debris. The story is dramatic and methodical. In a few words, James Marshall discovered the blast and water flow had loosened gold. Thus began the California Gold Rush.

Seeking, persevering and “lacking nothing” ties together. I’ve thought of perseverance as a habit, personal characteristic, passive waiting—waiting something out. I now see that it is aggressive seeking. (“What’s going on here?”) To a James Marshall that gives perseverance opportunity to do its work. Marshall was not seeking gold. He was trying to figure out why the logs wouldn’t flow downstream. He refused to give up. He stuck to it. It was not “dogged stupidity,” but digging for reasons. The work of perseverance set loose something grander.

Marshall’s wet boots tell the story. Instead of walking away, he let perseverance do its work. He did not avoid the blockage. He waded into the mud to seek the reason for blockages. Perseverance is a universal Kingdom principle. That means it is not a respecter of persons. It doesn’t care who lets it do the work. Muddy boots, shovel, pickax and a questioning mind are the tools.

Kingdom people are instructed, “So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely.” Don’t rush away from the blocked stream too soon. Strange procedure—the way perseverance works: defect, explosion, gold.

Lord, what are you trying to teach me with these blockages, barriers, betrayals? I desire to fit into your plan so that the outcome will be a mature me, well-developed and lacking nothing.

©2015 D. Dean Benton   https://www.bentonministries.com/

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Up To You

When the astronaut came to grips with feeling alone in space, he says that he became aware that alone or not, his assignment remained. If those 117 screws were going to be removed, the app replaced, he was going to have to do it. Alone or not, temporarily stymied, replacing the sensor was up to him.

It is up to you.

The following words are among the most important that I have ever read or heard:

“The wound is too well aimed and far too consistent to be accidental. It was/is an attempt to take you out; to cripple or destroy your strength and get you out of action. Do you know why there’s been such an assault? The Enemy fears you. You are dangerous big-time. If you ever got your heart back, live from it with courage, you would be a huge problem to him. You would do a lot of damage…on the side of good.

“…if you want your heart back, if you want the wound healed and your strength restored and to find your true name, you’re going to have to fight for it.” (pages 88-89 Wild at Heart. John Eldredge, Thomas Nelson, 2001)

It’s up to you—no one is going to do it for you. You’re going to have to fight for it.

In my book HopePushers—in possession with intent to deliver, there is a chapter: “In off the ledge.” What feels like the loss of hope may be instead one of several assaults like temptation or a test or strengthening. Why surrender hope when what is in the wind is the call to refute a specific temptation?

Dr. Ben Carson tells of a journeybend in his life: “Because of the reading I began to see that the person who has the most to do with what happens to you is you.”

In an interview with Michael Hyatt, Dr. Carson said, “You can do anything you want to do. Don’t just sit there and bemoan the fact that things aren’t going well…just use that circumstance to get where you want to go.”

It’s up to you. It is uncomfortable outside the safety of the spacecraft, but if “it” is going to get done…it is up to you.

Where do you want to go? Hope begins with determining what you want and where you want to go. Write it down. Be very specific. Hope then builds the infrastructure to get you there. Your brain will work as a servomechanism once it understands the assignment.

What do you want? Where do you want to go that you are willing to give your energy to?

It’s up to you.

©2015 D. Dean Benton Writer, Wonderer.

  Link to HopePushers

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/572059

Alone in Space

Listening to an astronaut on NPR telling about his spacewalk to replace an app. Traveling at 17,000 mph, he described going into the dark side of the cycle. Cold and the darkest of dark. Not much to hang onto. He said he wasn’t worried about the tether. It was his heart he was concerned about.

“Don’t look down!”

The app was covered by a plate held in place by 117 small screws with tiny washers. He found that plate was covered by another plate with several screws one of which had been stripped. It is not like he could take off his glove and pull the screw out with fingernails. He rode the orbiter through the dark-cold side and was instructed to use duct tape to get the resistant screw. Millions spent on tools and they needed duct tape. Worked!

The team had practiced for years to get those screws out. At 150 miles above the earth, he readied himself to remove the first of 117 screws and found the cordless drill battery was dead.

The astronaut said one feeling dominated him through that spacewalk: how alone he was. Even after he got back to earth, he felt that memory of “alone.” I may pass out just thinking about the aloneness of being outside the spacecraft in space.

I know people who feel that alone. Let me repeat my mantra—Where do you advertise for a friend? Not just another body, but someone who “gets” you and know they are for you even when they don’t understand everything you’re saying, feeling, planning or wanting.

One of my pastors said on the Lord’s Day, “The church is the world’s only hope. God has no Plan B.” I didn’t want to start an argument, I just wanted to hear strategies. Of course, we need people to sit by bedsides, but we desperately need people who will walk alongside the creatives and the “cut loose”. If the church has no strategy or stomach for that….

The Quest House—the community you’ve always wanted. We have room at the “house.” The power of “with me,” “let us,” “together.” (See Psalm 34:3.)

I’m going to go charge my drill.

©2015 D. Dean Benton—www.bentonministries.com

Boys will be men–if we do it right

“‘Dad…did you really think I was a wild man up there?’ John Eldredge’s son asked him. The writer said:

“Miss that moment and you’ll miss a boy’s heart forever. It’s not a question—it’s the question, the one every boy and man is longing to ask. Do I have what it takes? Am I powerful? Until a man knows he’s a man he will forever be trying to prove he is one, while at the same time shrink from anything that might reveal he is not. Most men live their lives haunted by the question, or crippled by the answer they’ve been given.”

I’m reading Wild at Heart (John Eldredge, Thomas Nelson 2001) for the 3rd or 4th time.

“Adam’s story…the outcome is always the same: a wound in the soul…. Every boy, in his journey to become a man, takes an arrow in the center of his heart, in the place of his strength. Because the wound is rarely discussed and even more rarely healed, every man carries a wound. And the wound is nearly always given by his father.” (page 60)

After reading the above, I listened to one of my regular podcasts as two men described scheduling an evening for their 10-12 year old sons to meet with the men’s best friends. Half a dozen men who celebrated the boy, giving him gifts and their telephone numbers and email addresses. The ceremony is based on the idea of “uncle” as an older man (older than the boy—not necessarily “old”) who is available to the boy, interacts with the boy and becomes a life-long coach-mentor.

One of the podcast guys asked, “Can you imagine what it would have been like to have had a couple of older men you knew had your back? Talk to?” It seems that kind of relationship must not be common. That is what Paul wrote to Timothy about—older men for the younger and mature women who would mentor their younger sisters to talk about important stuff and interact. The podcast guys refused to let the chance get by without providing that resource for their own kids. What surprised me was that those two men in their 40s each had a dozen close men friends to introduce their sons to—“I want you to meet my close friend….”

The Quest House envisions a weekly gathering for conversation, engagement and mission. The theme of my book “Caught in the Tail Lights” is the difference such relationships make.

I tried to tell my wife the perfect excuse for being late for work—“I had a road rage incident with an alien space craft and….” She didn’t get it—even after I explained it. Some things women don’t get. Guys might if they know your heart and care. O.K. maybe not the road rage–alien thing.

Be in touch with me.  We can have coffee–I’ll explain the alien space craft.

©2015 D. Dean Benton

Entrances, Tunnels, Treasure

At the end of World War II, the Nazis were reported to have driven a 300-400 foot armored train into a mountain entrance on the Germany-Poland border. It simply disappeared into the mountain. Since 1945, rumors of its existence have never quieted, nor has anyone found a trace. The contents were suggested to be armaments, stolen art, financial treasures—up to 300 tons of gold—and government documents.

A man who claims to have helped hide the train 70 years ago revealed on his deathbed the approximate location of the train. Mid-August two adventurers told the Polish government they were willing to divulge the secrets for a 10% finder’s fee. In the past few days, the Polish government said, with 99% certainty, that the train had been found.

George Clooney appeared in a movie called “The Monument’s Men” which is about the men who saved 24,000 pieces of art the Nazis had stolen and stored in a mountain tunnel. So the pattern does have German fingerprints.

The possibility of that train under the mountain fascinates me. More than that, it is becoming the icon that identifies my heart.

Irving Stone has written several of my favorite biographies and historical novels. His 1956 book Men to Match My Mountains captures my imagination. It is the telling of how the Far West United States was won, Stone tells the stories of men and women who surveyed, pioneered, fought for and settled the land. Virtually everyone had a hidden tunnel in them hiding a flaw, a past or disposition that motivated or paralyzed them. John Fremont was one. John Sutter, John Marsh are on the list of those who settled California and our West Coast. Each with a hidden track in their personal history that carried buried treasure.

“The Far West was little concerned with a man’s past: he could become anything he could prove himself to be.” (Irving Stone)

“They (John Fremont and Thomas Hart Benton) would not be content until they had discovered and established new routes along which thousands of American families could travel to settle the Far West and claim it for the United States.” (Page 47—Men for My Mountains.)

Had Fremont not fallen in love with sixteen year old Jessie Benton, the hidden treasure known as John Fremont would have remained a mystery—at least what we know of his successes would be a faint outline. Jessie was the excavator in a difficult project.

I am drawn to people and methods that uncover tunnel entrances and excavate the treasures in people who God has equipped to map and make mountains and coast lines productive. People like Brené Brown, Jon Acuff, Dave Ramsey, Bob Buford, Bob Biehl, Michael Hyatt, Henry Cloud, Andy Stanley, Anne Lamott, John Eldredge, John Maxwell, Mark Rutland, Donald Miller and a few dozen others. That is the reason I like biographies. It is the reason I like to ask people questions—tell me your story! And it is the reason why I write books, teach seminars about divorce, depression, hope, change, anger-healing, God’s Kingdom and why I’m obsessed with small groups and transformational tribes.

All of this is like Jesus standing outside Lazarus tomb calling, “Come out—be dead no longer.” Let’s find the unique healing path that will release the treasure that something or someone hid in that tunnel deep beneath your surface.

Today there is a news article warning adventurers, treasurer hunters and tourists to stay away from the mountain and the tunnel entrances—they may very well be mined with explosives. The spiritual tunnels in us are not easily uncovered. They are guarded by strongholds. Satan will fight the discovery. John Eldredge writes something like—“The devil fears you for he knows what you can be.”

Hidden in you is a fortune. From yesterday’s reading: “Where a man’s wound is, that is where his genius will be.”

Hand me that pick ax. Holy Spirit, where is the hidden entrance? There is a treasurer to uncover.

©2015 D. Dean Benton—https://bentonministries.com

Writer, Wonderer, Would be excavator

Have you checked out HopePushers—with intent to deliver:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/572059

Thirsty

I dreamed about shopping for Community Coffee last night. Community Coffee is Louisiana’s official coffee. For a season, we had it shipped to us. When I first tasted it, I felt strangely completed. Then Walmart started carrying it. I regret our local Walmart no longer does. Carole asked me one day if Community Coffee was like my love for grits—“do you like the taste or what it represents?” The answer is yes.

We have a drawer full of coffee. Ground coffee from Ethiopia and flavors from the land of Folgers. Lately I’ve just been dissatisfied. I even tried Starbucks yesterday. Didn’t do it. Few disappointments equal coming to the bottom of the cup and feeling, “That ain’t it.”

I thought it odd that I dreamed of standing at a table piled high with packaged Community Coffee. I remember holding a package and examining it. That’s all I remember from the dream.

One of my Facebook friends posted this morning that he was out of coffee. It was then that I remembered my dream. I don’t know about him, but I instantly knew what motivated the dream. I’ve got a drawer full of coffee, but I’m missing community.

I listened to a podcast this morning with Chip Heitzig who pastors a 15,000 attendee church. He was asked how that growth happened. He said “community—feeling of family.”

Thirsting for Community and community. Front porch, back deck, coffee bar. Perhaps the best invitation of all is “Come Put Your Feet Under our Table.”